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May 25, 2010

Review: Godiva Ice Cream Parlor Truffles

Summer is just under a month away and it's time to gear up for all the great tastes of the season. And what taste screams summer more than ice cream? Seriously. Since I was old enough to chase the ice cream man summer and ice cream have gone hand in hand. And to get into the spirit of the season Godiva has brought back their Ice Cream Parlor Truffles. They've even stepped up their summertime swing with new flavors. This year they're introducing Double Dark Chocolate, Pistachio, Lemon Sherbet, and Rocky Road. These are in addition to the existing flavors of Mint Chocolate Chip, Neapolitan, Hazelnut Gelato, Oranges and Crème, and Pecan Caramel Sundae. That's a pretty tasty sounding lineup. I was lucky enough to be sent a sampler of the new flavors in what is some of the coolest packaging I've seen in some time.

You see, they have these great little lidded cups that look like pint ice cream containers - awesome way to work with the theme, no? You can get pre-made pints or get a custom pint made at a boutique. Even cooler, if you do happen go to a Godiva boutique you can get an Ice Cream Truffle Cone - yep, they give the truffle a little dip and stick it in a mini-cone. And if that isn't already enough summertime fun they also have these cute Milk Chocolate Popsicle Lollipops. They look - surprise! - like a popsicle and are available in orange, green and brown tied with a pink satin ribbon. And that's still not all. They've gone whole hog on the ice cream with Ice Cream Parlor Truffle Bars! These are available in Oranges & Cream, Mint Chocolate Chip, Hazelnut Gelato and Vanilla Sundae. So if a single truffle isn't enough to satisfy your ice cream urge, they've got you covered. They've even stepped up availability by making the classic flavors available at department stores and online where last year they were boutique only. The new flavors are only available at Godiva boutiqes, though. But it may be worth it to go to an actual Godiva store so you can try those cool little mini-cones and get a custom packed pint container with your choice of flavors, old or new.

Love the theme and the killer packaging, but it's the taste that's important, right? Well, they've done some pretty impressive work on some of these. The Double Dark Chocolate is great - dark on dark is a sure winner in my book and this delivers. The Lemon Sherbet is nice and lemony, but I don't know that I've got any basis for comparison - I've had lots of orange and lime sherbet, but I don't know if I've ever had lemon. It's not my favorite, but it's still good. The rocky road is really nice and hits close to the mark of the classic ice cream flavor with a nice hit of marshmallowy vanilla along with the nuts and chocolate. And then there's Pistachio. I'm not sure how I managed to avoid the flavor for so long, but once I started on it I've been unable to stop and I love the combination of Pistachio and white chocolate. And that's what we've got here and it's really tasty.

As for the "old" flavors, well, I couldn't settle for just trying the new flavors, could I? So I nipped off to the mall and grabbed some of the classics to taste test. I haven't tried them all just yet, but the ones I have are some seriously good stuff. The Neapolitan is a home run - I just had Breyer's Strawberry Ice Cream on Saturday and the strawberry in the Neapolitan Truffle is close to a dead ringer for that natural strawberry ice cream flavor. Paired with some vanilla and all wrapped up in chocolate it really nails the flavor combination well. And good golly gosh the Mint Chocolate Chip.... dead on perfect and totally to die for. They are so wrong they're right. Gooshy, minty and chocolaty – they are a thing of beauty. Oh, and the Oranges and Crème matches up to a Orange Creamsicle pretty darn well, too. Then there is the Pecan Caramel Sundae. After the other truffles turned out to be so solid I had some pretty high expectations for this one. Luckily it lived up to expectations with some lovely gooey caramel and vanilla sections – with nuts even! Absolutely awesome.

So how do they all rate? I’d say they run from a low of 7 out of 10 for the Lemon Sherbet up to a good strong 9.25 out of 10 for the Mint Chocolate Chip and Pecan Caramel Sundae. Overall I’d probably drop an 8.5 for the whole line. Very tasty stuff and a fun change of pace. The prices aren’t terrible for Godiva either. A four-truffle pint will run you $10 and a three pint pack with Neapolitan, Mint Chocolate Chip and Pecan Caramel Sundae will run just $25 (they call it an Ice Cream Social – hee hee). And the cones will only set you back $3, the lollipops are $6 and it's only $2.95 for one of the Ice Cream Parlor Truffle Bars. It may be more economical to go with per pound pricing for your truffles, though. I love the packaging and all, but I tend to go that route because I don’t see a whole lot of reason to waste a box on chocolate that is just for me and my friends. But do what makes you happy. Just do it fast, because they're only here for a limited time!

May 16, 2010

Pseudo-Review: John & Kira's Chocolates

As much as I love John & Kira's Chocolates I'm really surprised to find that I've never really reviewed anything they make. I've been a big fan of their fabulous drunken pumpkin figs they do for the holiday season, but up until a few months ago I'd really not had anything else they make outside of the New York Chocolate Show. But this spring they were doing a bit of a half-off dealie on some of their stuff in the wake of Valentine's Day and I took that opportunity to try a few more of their treats. Doing so was a great move - I got to try two of the best pieces of chocolate I've had in the last year - maybe ever.

The first thing I got was a box of their tri-color Ladybugs (they're painted to look like little ladybugs). It comes with three bugs each in red (raspberry), yellow (honey lavender), and green (garden mint). Great write-ups on the ingredients at those links. Oh, and it comes in a really nice box. Totally love their packaging. When you pull a bug (or a bee - we'll get to those) from the box there are these lovely little facts about ladybugs and bees lurking in the spot vacated. Now, the flavors. The raspberry was good, but not over the top amazing - I may be jaded to raspberry as most raspberry things don't impress me any more. This one was relatively mild raspberry with nice chocolate and pretty balanced overall. The honey lavender was fantastic. You could really taste the honey and the lavender. This one was over the top amazing, but it still wasn't as over the top amazing as the garden mint. There are so many generic mint chocolates out there that finding one with a beautiful real fresh mint flavor is so nice. Absolutely incredible stuff.

And speaking of incredible stuff the other item I ordered was a box of their caramel chocolate bees. Like the ladybugs they're painted to look like cute little bees. They're salted caramel with a little honey all wrapped in chocolate and they are unbelievable good. I was expecting a nice salted caramel, but that touch of honey makes them - you guessed it - over the top amazing. Maybe even better than that. Killer stuff.

Let's see, did I miss anything? Oh, yeah. They use Valrhona for their chocolate. It's all good stuff on top of more good stuff. Of course it comes at a price. They are kinda expensive. But when you look at a, say, Godiva, you'll find that they're pretty competitive. It may not be for everyday consumption, but when you want something exceptional it fits the bill. It's been a while since I ate them so I feel a little bad about giving them a score from memory, but I don't remember them as anything but awesome. The ladybugs get a 9.25 out of 10 for being amazingly awesome and the bees get a 9.5 for being darn near perfect. Yummy yummy stuff.

May 12, 2010

Free Ice Cream! Häagen-Dazs Even!

Häagen-Dazs is celebrating their birthday and they want you to come out and celebrate with them. On Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 they're giving free scoops of their classic flavors (vanilla, chocolate and coffee) "at participating locations" between 4pm and 8pm. I do love the Häagen-Dazs and I do so love free chocolate so I'll be heading over to the mall next Tuesday in hopes that my local H-D will be participating. There's a little search thing on their site to find the store nearest you. Hopefully there's one near enough that you can take advantage.

Hmm... I wonder what flavor I'll be getting. Heh.

May 11, 2010

Chocolate Stress Relief

It's once again been a long while since I last posted. The long and short of it is that the last two years have carried a lot of job-related stress that left me having little desire to do anything when I got home from work. So I would come home, take care of the rabbit, eat chocolate and vegetate.

Recently things were looking up and I was feeling a bit more positive and confident with regards to the future and was getting geared up to start posting again. And then I get informed that my position has been eliminated. Lovely.

So now I find myself between jobs with spare time on my hands (I can't focus on the job hunt ten hours a day - I'd go insane) and a wealth of chocolate all around me. And oh how that chocolate helps matters. I'm a bundle of stress and anxiety right now, but a tiny piece of chocolate can just dissolve the stress and improve my mood and outlook. I think the important thing will be keeping it down to eating just a tiny piece of chocolate. I don't want to start gorging myself on chocolate in the name of stress relief. It's all down to the thing I've been saying for years - you get every bit as much flavor and joy from a small bite of chocolate as you do from a big one.

So, as I deal with the stress of job-hunting (something I've never really had to do) I'm going to be nibbling on some chocolate and once again sharing my thoughts. It'll be a nice way to break up the day.

Cheers!